Therapeutic Skills in the Workplace

Therapeutic Skills in the Workplace

Confronting Racial Wounds

By Anatasia Kim

May/June 2021

"Let’s be real. There’s no respect on this team,” Nia blurts out. “What went down during the last staff meeting, that racist stuff that was said, does that not piss the rest of you off?”

There are 21 people on this Zoom call. I can see each of their faces on the screen, and no one looks ready to respond. Nia isn’t cowed by the silence. Shaking her head, she leans closer to her camera and excoriates the group. “It’s been four weeks. No one has said anything about it!”

The mood of the call shifts to palpable discomfort. Some people are looking off to the side or have sat back in their chairs. But not me. I’m riveted. As a therapist, I see Nia’s anger as a gift. It takes guts to express this much irritation to coworkers, especially a group that I’m gleaning is normally affable and polite—likely too polite.

I’m here as an outside consultant, brought in to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to this corporate team. My aim today is to help them learn to engage with issues that touch on diversity in an honest and constructive fashion. They work for a small tech company, and this is part of their routine professional development. When they hired me, the head of HR had alluded to the “usual DEI challenges,” but she hadn’t mentioned a particular pain point. It’s quite possible she didn’t know it…

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